Published by: Tor Books
ISBN 13: 9780765338051
Published: September 2016
Format reviewed: Paperback
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Three out of Five
Related Reviews: Reading Challenge: Women of Speculative Fiction
This is part of my reading challenge for 2017, to expand my woeful knowledge of women in speculative fiction by reading at least 24 books by women that were and are instrumental in our genre.
I wanted to love this book. I came back to it three times before just pushing on ahead and ticking it off. It felt like such a great something to be excited over, to the point where I still got that feeling of remembering I had something I was really enjoying to read… but when I came back to it, it was as though the bits I loved had slipped through my fingers and were lost.
I think what I love about this was the idea – however, the reality was something a bit different to what I’d remembered when I’d put it down. Kind of like when fanfiction takes over as your personal canon from the actual show/book. The structure is all there and it is magnificent but then I was constantly waiting for it to really kick off and for the characters to really become something. However, there’s a vast cast of characters and we see a lot from each of their perspectives over a vast amount of years for so few pages, which also means you never really find yourself attaching to any singular one. You don’t connect to any on an emotional level, and it’s hard to care about them, or anything they care about.
I think this is just a novel told in a different way than you’d expect. As a novella you’d expect something a little different, and I think this would have been unbelievable presented in that way. As it is… is falls a little flat.
Shawl’s writing is, as ever, beautiful and this is worthwhile to pick up just to experience that. I’d probably recommend her short fiction more – starting with “A Beautiful Stream” in the Cranky Ladies of History anthology, and/or “Wallamelon” in the Magic City: Recent Spells anthology.